Retailing | Bankrupt bookseller Borders Group said in court papers filed Friday that it will name a stalking-horse bidder by July 1, with an eye toward completing the sale of all of its assets by the end of July. The Detroit News spotlights the two private-equity firms that have placed bids to buy at least a majority of the book chain’s 416 remaining stores: Phoenix-based Najafi Cos., which owns the Book of the Month Club, Columbia House and BMG; and Los Angeles-based Gores Group — the likely stalking-horse bidder — whose investments include Alliance Entertainment and Westwood One. [Reuters, The Detroit News]
Legal | Peanutweeter, a blog that combined frames from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts strips with real, out-of-context tweets, has been taken down by Tumblr as the result of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint from Iconix Brand Group, which acquired a majority stake in the Peanuts assets last year. One blogger, however, argues the blog should be considered fair use. [RIPeanutweeter, Boing Boing]
The latest in a long line of historical comic-related auctions is coming up at Heritage Auctions‘ next event –a never-before-seen pre-Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz. Here it is:
Created in the late 40s between Schulz’ first work Li’l Folks and the debut of Peanuts in 1950, it contains characters that bear more than a passing resemblance to future Peanuts stars Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The artwork is being offered by the family of the late Frieda Rich, a lifelong friend of Schulz who served as the inspiration for the Frieda character with the famous “naturally curly hair.”
This will be one of many pieces that’ll hit Heritage Auctions’ auction block on May 5, and the organizers expect this piece to bring more than $20,000 alone.
Retailing | The financially troubled Borders Group reportedly could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as today or Tuesday, setting the stage to close about 200 of its 674 Borders and Waldenbooks stores and eliminate thousands of jobs. [The Wall Street Journal]
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors revealed that 98 percent of the more than 500 direct market stores visited by secret shoppers during the first month of day-early delivery were found to be in compliance with the program’s street-date requirements. According to Diamond, of the 10 stores discovered to be in violation of the agreement, one was reported by another retailer while the others were discovered by secret shoppers. [ICv2.com]
Comic-Con | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday during a marathon online-registration session that taxed the servers of convention sales partner TicketLeap and frustrated ticket buyers. Four-day passes were gone by about 2 p.m. PT; the event sold out by 6 p.m. (Additional passes may become available as cancellations are processed.) As we noted earlier, San Francisco comics retailer Isotope is memorializing Saturday’s experience with a “San Diego Comic Con 2011 Registration Disaster Commemorative Fail Frog button,” featuring a modified version of the TicketLeap logo that frustrated users saw every time they refreshed their web browser.
On the TicketLeap company blog, CEO Chris Stanchak acknowledged that “our platform experienced capacity issues for a 4 hour period” on Saturday: “While we knew the event was going to put significant demand on our system, we did not expect the traffic we received. [...] The traffic we received yesterday was several orders of magnitude higher than our high end estimate. Due to the heavy strain on the system, users for all events across our system received ‘Over Capacity’ errors. This prevented ticket buyers from buying tickets and it prevented event organizers from managing their events.” Tom Spurgeon offers commentary. [Comic-Con International]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with cartoonist Art Spiegelman about being only the third American to receive the Grand Prix from the Angoulême International Comics Festival. As recipient of the honor, the 62-year-old artist will help plan next year’s festival. “I don’t know whether you should say ‘congratulations’ or ‘condolences,’ ” he says. [The Washington Post]
Legal | A Michigan judge on Monday ordered the DNA of former retailer Michael George to be compared with a hair found on the body of his wife when she was shot to death in 1990 in their comic book store. George, 50, was found guilty in March 2008 of first-degree murder, but that conviction was set aside because of prosecutorial misconduct and the possibility of new evidence. [The Detroit News]
A couple of years back I attended a panel at the Alternative Press Expo featuring Jason McNamara, writer of the Martian Confederacy, interviewing the books’ artist Paige Braddock for her spotlight panel at the show. It was an interesting discussion, so when Jason approached me about the possibility of doing an interview on the follow-up to the book, I asked him if maybe he’d be willing to interview Paige instead. And here it is. You can check out a preview of the book here.
by Jason McNamara
She’s an incredible talent, a generous collaborator and a very good friend. I’m talking, of course, about Paige Braddock.
Raised in the South, Paige graduated from the University of Tennessee and spent years working as a journalist before being recruited by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz to join his studio, where she’s now the Creative Director.
After hours, Paige is also the Eisner-nominated creator of Jane’s World, the saga of hapless journalist Jane Wyatt, cracking jokes and suffering one lesbian misadventure after another. Paige employs a classic Sunday-morning approach to modern relationships, creating a natural entry point for all readers. Created as an online strip in 1998, JW became a comic book in 2002 when Paige founded Girl Twirl publishing imprint. Jane’s World continues to be published twice a year as a series of graphic novels and is serialized at Comics.com.
A few years ago, Paige approached me about collaborating on a project. The result was 2008’s The Martian Confederacy, a futuristic Sci-Fi romp, equal parts Noam Chomsky and Dukes of Hazzard. With the upcoming release of our second volume, I thought this would be a great time to catch up.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Happy holidays everybody and welcome to another edition of our monthly Comics College feature. As our holiday gift to you, dear reader, this month we’re examining the career of one of the most beloved and acclaimed cartoonists of the 20th century, Mr. Charles M. Schulz.
Nat Gertler is known by some folks as the publisher of About Comics, while others know him as the person who started 24 Hour Comics Day back in 2004. But for the sake of this interview, I email interviewed Gertler about his new book (set to be released on October 25), The Peanuts Collection: Treasures from the World’s Most Beloved Comic Strip. Here’s the official description for the book: “This fully authorized, one-of-a-kind illustrated book celebrates the 60th anniversary of the world’s most beloved comic strip characters. A compendium of rare materials from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and family archives, The Peanuts Collection comes in a sturdy slipcase and features high-quality reproductions of original sketches, comics, and photographs from the world of Peanuts. Removable film cels, stickers, and booklets are included, as well as reproduction prints of Peanuts artwork ready for framing. Written by Peanuts aficionado Nat Gertler, with quotes from Schulz family members and a foreword by daughter Amy Schulz Johnson, the text offers insight into the making of the comic strip and its impact beyond the realms of newspapers and books to film, television, and popular culture. The Peanuts Collection is a must-own keepsake for anyone who loves Snoopy and the gang. … Gertler is the founder and author of Aaugh.com, a comprehensive resource for Peanuts collectors and fans.” This interview was a fun one for me, thanks to Gertler’s thorough knowledge of Peanuts material (For example, I’m still trying to fully grasp the fact that there was once a Peanuts Book of Pumpkin Carols).
Tim O’Shea: You’re a respected Peanuts expert, but I’m curious if there was any trepidation on your part in taking on a project of this import and scale?
Nat Gertler: Does a kid feel any trepidation about getting the key to the candy store? I’d already been considering writing a book about all the angles one could look at Peanuts from. That book would’ve been a bit more academic, but I jumped at the chance to do this celebratory book, with all of its great visuals and the cool removable items.
Publishing | The 59th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s wildly popular pirate series One Piece will set a manga record with a 3.2-million copy first printing from Japanese publisher Shueisha. The previous record of 3.1 million copies was held by the 58th volume of the series. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Mary Ann Gwinn spotlights the partnership between Fantagraphics Books and Rosebud Archives to publish archives of vintage comics. [The Seattle Times]
Comic strips | Craig Schulz, son of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, discusses the “Peanuts on Parade” public art project, David Michaelis’ controversial book Schulz & Peanuts: A Biography, and caring for his father’s legacy: “Our biggest fear has always been somebody buying up the rights and us not having any control. We’d rather have this property make $10 million a year for 50 years, than make $100 million in one year and walk away from it.” [The Press Democrat, via Journalista]
The California Association of Museums has launched a campaign to have a Snoopy drawing by Charles Schulz appear on a special California license plate. Proceeds from sales of the plates would establish a sustainable grant program to support state museums.
But for that to happen, at least 7,500 California drivers have to register interest in a Snoopy plate. Once there are enough interested Peanuts fans, the state will begin collecting a $50 fee from those who want the plate (more if you want it personalized). Curiously, The Snoopy Plate website doesn’t seem to list a deadline for registration.
The Snoopy plate is being made possible by Jean Schulz, the Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and United Media Licensing, who are granting royalty-free rights to the California Association of Museums.
Iconix Brand Group has partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz to buy the rights to Peanuts from E.W. Scripps Co.
The $175 million deal is for Scripps’ entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert and Fancy Nancy.
However, Peanuts, whose 1,200 licensing agreements generate annual retail sales of more than $2 billion worldwide, represents a majority of United Media’s revenue. Iconix will control an 80 percent share of the Peanuts brand.
Iconix, which owns the Candie’s and London Fog brands, expects Peanuts to bring in roughly $75 million in annual royalties. The Schulz heirs will receive a portion of that revenue in addition to their minority stake in the partnership.
Peanuts, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, at its peak appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers. Its characters are licensed in about 40 countries by such companies at MetLife, Hallmark, Walgreen and Universal Studios.
This is perhaps both the nerdiest and most wonderful thing I have ever seen on the Internet. Using The Complete Peanuts as his Bible, Larry Granillo at Wezen-ball.com is attempting to calculate — on a year-by-year basis — how many games Charlie Brown’s baseball team lost.
Using my collection of these books (which only goes through 1970 for now – I’ve got to get on that), I’ve done my best to find every baseball-related strip produced in those twenty years and tally up any relevant stats that they reveal. For the most part this means counting wins and losses and documenting any stated scores, though there are a few strips here and there that mention other stats.
Yeah, I know, the team hardly ever won, but Granillo also tries to provide info on, for example, how many times Charlie Brown got hit by a line drive, and finds lots of fun trivia. Here he is, talking about the year 1954:
For as bad as Charlie Brown’s team is, he does manage to have some good players. Linus is often shown making amazing catches. On July 15, he makes his first (of many) eye-popping catch, snagging the ball after running through a jump-rope.
Yesterday was Beethoven’s birthday, and the Schulz Museum honored the occasion with a new online exhibit entitled Schulz’s Beethoven: Schroeder’s Muse. The site features an examination of both the famed composer’s music and how Schulz incorporated it into his strip, along with recollections from Jean Schulz and others, audio selections, sheet music, history and lots of comic strips. Here’s a snippet from the press release, which Mike Lynch was gracious enough to post online:
Schulz’s Beethoven, Schroeder’s Muse features 60 cartoons that include meticulously drawn music from Beethoven’s piano sonatas complemented with manuscripts, first editions, and artwork from the rich collections of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San José State University. Visitors to the on-line exhibition can listen to the music, travel to other websites to enrich their understanding of the strips, and explore cartoon and music history.
Sounds like a pretty good way to spend a Thursday afternoon to me.
• The University Press of Mississippi will be publishing My Life With Charlie Brown in April. It’s a collection of essays, lectures and articles by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. If April seems to far away for you, this book is coming out next month.
• Van Jensen gives readers the scoop on the upcoming book tour for Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and announces plans for a sequel in winter of next year.
• Speaking of SLG, they will be releasing an omnibus collection of Gene Yang’s early work, entitled Animal Crackers, in January.
• The Kingdom of New York is a new book featuring essays and articles from the New York Observer magazine. It also sports a spiffy cover and interior art by Drew Friedman. And apparently Fantagraphics will be releasing a collection of Friedman’s celebrity portraits in summer of 2010.
• Dash Shaw, who has redesigned his Web site, apparently completely reworked his 2006 book the Mother’s Mouth, cutting out pages and changing colors. The alternations are only for the French and Spanish editions, however, which seems a shame.
Is it time for Shelf Porn once again? You bet your sweet bippy it is! And we’ve got a heck of a collection to share with you this week, from Caren Pilgrim, who runs the Peanuts Collectibles Web site. As you might imagine, she has quite the Peanuts-inspired collection herself.
Upon coming across her Web site, I emailed Caren and asked if she would be willing to share some photos of her collection with Robot 6 readers. Here’s what she sent in …